Kwesta’s career is undoubtedly one of the most iconic in modern South African hip hop. His journey has been a source of inspiration for his fans.
Kwesta was born as Senzo Mfundo Vilakazi on August 11th 1988 in Katlehong, a large lower income area in the East Rand of Johannesburg. He was raised by a single mom as his Dad abandoned their family when he was 5 years old.
Kwesta, like many rappers, first fell in love with poetry in school. He received praise from friends and teachers when he performed at a school talent show – that’s when he realized he had a talent for preforming spoken word. In 2003, at the age of 15, he and a few friends formed a rap group by the name of “Ghetto Fellaz” which then changed to “The Juvenylz”.
In the beginning…
In 2005 Kwesta began gaining a following in his hometown of Katlehong. He could often be seen at school pageants, talent shows, street parties and local festivals around the township.
Kwesta’s career really began when he later decided to drop out of high school to pursue his dreams. He recorded his first solo tracks in a makeshift at home studio. This demo caught the attention of Africa’s Most Southern Record Company (AMS), which eventually allowed him to use their recording facilities to allow for young Kwesta to harness his rapping skills.
Kwesta, still a teenager, soon after convinced his mother to give him taxi fare to get to the Buttabing Entertainment’s offices. This meeting turned out to be worth way more than R30, it resulted in Kwesta being added to Buttabing Entertainment’s roster, co-owned by founding members Shugasmakx and Slikour. He traveled across the country as part of the entertainment line up. Kwesta spent 2008 through to 2009 recording his first album while being groomed by the company for the big time.
His debut album, Special ReKwest was released in 2010 at just 21 years old. Kwesta made history as the first local rapper to have 7 singles on the radio charts in his first year after debut. .
His sophomore album, DaKAR – Da King of Afrikan Rap, was released in 2013. The album debuted at number 3 on iTunes South Africa Hip-hop/Rap chart, behind Eminem’s Marshall Matthers LPII & Drake’s Nothing Was The Same. Kwesta has continued to received rave reviews from fans and industry insiders.
Kwesta’s third studio album DaKAR II was released on 26 February 2016. He made local hip-hop history when this album went 7x platinum. His platinum status was confirmed by the Recording Industry of South Africa (RISA). The LP has sold 210,000 units. He released it through his own Independent record and media company known as Rap Lyf with co-founder Kid X.
Kwesta’s Biggest Performances
In 2010, he performed at the 2010 Fifa World Cup when it was hosted in South Africa.
In 2017, Kwesta was the 3rd South Africa rapper to freestyle on the legendary US radio show Sway in the Morning and the first to receive the coveted 'Hyena' accolade. Some say that is when he truly earned the tiltle of King of African Rap. The clip went viral across social media and accumulated millions of views. Kwesta gained thousands of fans across the globe.
Kwesta’s Biggest Hits
In 2015, Kwesta dropped his legendary hit “Nomayini”. The song went on to be certified 3 times platinum. Nomayini was a single off of the 2016 album DaKAR II. The album is 7x platinum and became South Africa’s best selling hip hop albums of all-time.
In late 2016, he released another hit – Mayibabo. The song is also from Kwesta’s 3rd album DaKAR II. The song features okmalumkoolkat, Dj Buckz and DJ Maphorise. The track was was nominated for Best Collaboration in 2017 at the South African Music Awards and Metro FM Music Awards.
Also in 2016, he dropped ‘Ngud’ featuring Cassper Nyovest. The track a smash hit and reached number 1 in the South Africa EMA top 10 charts. It was also certified 5x platinum. “Ngud” went on to win various awards including the SAMRO Highest Airplay of the Year and Best Collaboration.
In 2017, Kwesta released “Spirit” ft American rapper, Wale. The “Spirit” music video was directed by famed South African Director, Tebogo Malope. It is one of the most expensive videos at a whooping R1 million and was shot in just 23 hours. It is Kwesta’s 4th platinum single from one album – DaKAR II.